Water and Regional Integration: The Role of Water as a Driver of Regional Economic Integration in Southern Africa
Water Research Commission Research Report 2252/1/14
150 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016
Date Written: March 2, 2015
This report considers whether and how different approaches to the development, management and use of water resources might contribute to regional integration in Southern Africa and concludes that water does not make an important direct contribution. Its political symbolism may have an important indirect impact and should not be under-estimated.
Practical recommendations are made for approaches that could ensure that water resource management contributes to the SADC goal of greater regional integration.
One recommendation is that the focus of cooperation should be functional rather than institutional – addressing specific shared problems rather than establishing institutions to deal with them if they arise. This recommendation is equally applicable to wider approaches to integration which are currently under discussion in Southern Africa.
The other key recommendation is that approaches to water management on shared rivers should by ‘hydro-supportive’ rather than ‘hydro-centric’. Cooperation to achieve the region’s socio-economic development ambitions is more likely to gain support and produce results than a focus on environmental protection.
Keywords: water resource management, regional integration, Southern Africa
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